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Court Declines to Bifurcate Protest and CDA Claim

A motion to bifurcate a proceeding into bid protest and contract phases was denied in part and granted in part by the Court of Federal Claims because there were common elements regarding the government's liability for both the bid protest and breach of contract claim, but the common elements did not extend to determining damages. The "unusual" case combining a bid protest and a Contract Disputes Act claim arose when the government unilaterally amended a contract to administer a conservation trust. The contractor alleged the amendment, which established a contractual termination date, and the government's subsequent solicitation for a replacement trustee breached the trust agreement. The contractor's protest sought injunctive and declaratory relief, and its CDA claim sought breach damages. The government moved to bifurcate the proceedings to resolve the bid protest before addressing the merits of the contract claim.

Single Underlying Question

The court concluded bifurcating a determination of the merits of the protest and the contract claim would be inappropriate because the lawfulness of the government's actions to remove the contractor as trustee was at the heart of both the protest and the breach claim. The court therefore denied the government's motion to bifurcate the determination of the government's liability. However, the court could address the validity of the purported termination before addressing damages on the contract claim, and it granted the government's motion to bifurcate with respect to damages. The government also moved to stay the filing of its answer pending disposition of motions for judgment on the administrative record. Although in an ordinary bid protest the court looks to the administrative record to resolve the merits, and "no purpose is served" by requiring the government to answer a complaint, the court denied the motion because proceedings on liability with respect to the bid protest and contractual claims would go forward concurrently. Finally, the court granted the contractor's motion to supplement the administrative record with documents that were relevant to the government's actions, noting that original trust documents not added to the record were discoverable for purposes of the CDA claim. (Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Foundation, Inc. v. U.S., FedCl, 54 CCF 79,246)




(The news featured above is a selection from the news covered in the Government Contracts Report Letter, which is published weekly and distributed to subscribers of the Government Contracts Reporter. )


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